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Portland Coffee Tour, An Afternoon Of Artisan Coffees With @ThirdWaveTours

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Get to know some of the best coffee shops in Portland.

If I loved spending an afternoon learning about the Shanghai Tunnels of Portland with Portland Walking Tour then I “need” to take a Portland Coffee Tour. Coffee is the start to my day and I’m pretty positive I’m not alone in that feeling. One of the great things about Portland is it’s massive love of coffee. I’m not talking about having a Starbucks on every corner, I mean Portland has a vibrant and expansive artisan coffee culture, instead of Starbucks the people of Portland flock to the independent coffee shops and roasters. I’m not sure if 30 Days In Portland is enough to sample them all so I signed up with Third Wave Coffee Tours to get a head start on some of the best.

Third Wave Coffee Tours

Roam Mobility Travel Free from USA roaming fees

Third Wave Coffee Tours offers 5 guided tours to choose from. I chose the Eastside tour since I’ve been able to explore the Downtown shops on my own. I meet up with Third Wave owner and tour guide Lora at the first stop of the tour Ristretto Roasters. I’m joined on this tour by “Aunt Barb” another coffee lover.

Ristretto Roasters

Aunt Barb & Lora

The tour starts off with Lora giving us a brief history of coffee and more specifically the artisan specialty coffee history of Portland. After our history recap we move on to sampling. Our Barista at Ristretto brewed us each a cup in a machine I’d never seen before. It used hot water and pressure in a unique container to brew a very nice cup of coffee, I can see why they are rated one of the 10 best independent coffee shops in the USA by Zagat’s.

Lora gives a brief history of coffee

Ristretto Roasters pouring us a cup of coffee

pouring coffee at Ristretto Roasters

Our next stop was Portland Roasting Coffee & Cupping Room. A roaster first the coffee shop and public cupping room were opened up to satisfy the high demand of customers that wanted to enjoy a “cup of” out of the house. Here, we are taken right into the cupping room where we are treated to two different coffee blends brewed two different ways. Cupping is very important to the coffee roaster because this is where the “finished” product is sampled and “approved” before it hits the coffee pots.Cupping is a fun treat and if you’ve never done it before then do, think if it like a wine tasting where you compare and recognize the different favours and influences in the blend. Fun!

Portland Roasting Coffee & Cupping Room

Public Cupping room at Portland Roasters

Cupping Room at Portland Roasters

brewing coffee at Portland Roasters

Back out into the Portland sun we walk for about 10 minutes to our next stop, often recognized as “The Coffee Shop” of Portland, Coava Coffee Roasters. Coava shares it’s space with another business so the vibe is very unique and totally Hipster. Here we meet with Marcus who presents us with the current blends on offer. Barb and Lora go for a Latte while I go for my favourite way to enjoy coffee, Americano. Coava is definitely a highlight so far, the coffee is fantastic and the vibe is oh so very Portland. When you visit Portland you definitely need to make a stop here.

Coava Coffee Roasters

Marcus helps us choose a coffee blend

Latte at Coava

After a lovely chat with Marcus about the coffee scene in Portland we move on to our next stop which is a Portland institution, Stumptown Coffee. We arrive just in time for the public cupping program they offer at the Stumptown Head Office. It’s a huge crowd of 20 + coffee lovers and under the guidance of the Stumptown rep we are walked through the cupping process from start to finish with over 5 different coffees. This takes place every day at 3pm so if you can’t do a full tour at least maybe you can do this part.

Stumptown Coffee

cupping at Stumptown

Barb and Lora sup some coffee at Stumptown

Our last stop of the tour is another 10 minute walk and it’s at Water Avenue Coffee. We are treated to another beautiful coffee tasting here and something I am starting to understand is that not every coffee roast is right for every brewing method. Drip, pour over, chemex, and espresso all brew great coffee but it depends on the beans and which brew method with accentuate the flavour and not destroy it.

Water Avenue Coffee


tasting more coffee at Water Avenue Coffee

I have drunk a lot of coffee today and I am pretty happy. A great way to spend an afternoon sampling some amazing coffee and making new friends along the way. If you love coffee as much as I do then you need to take this tour the next time you visit Portland. Third Wave Coffee Tours is a must do experience in my books.

New friends

I want to thank my sponsors Roam Mobility and GM Canada for helping me make this series possible. Roam of course for their awesome product to help me stay connected at a reasonable price and to GM for providing me with a sweet ride to make the road trip in. I don’t know what I’ll be getting yet but I’m looking forward to exploring and test driving a brand new GM.


Roam Mobility is a Canadian wireless company that eliminates US roaming fees by connecting you directly to its nationwide network in the USA.  To get started with Roam, all you need is one of their USA Travel SIM Cards or devices, then you can enjoy unlimited talk and text, plus data anytime you cross the border. Just pick a plan that fits your needs, schedule when you want it to start and travel free from USA roaming fees with Roam Mobility! To learn more, visit www.roammobility.com.


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About Author

Marc Smith is a former event planner turned vagabond adventurer. He loves strong Americano's, great wine, cold beer and zip lining over tree tops. Formerly of Vancouver, most of Marc's time when not travelling is in Canada's largest city, Toronto. Follow along on his nomad adventures and discover places to stay, things to do and where to eat & drink as he explores the world one city and region at a time.

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